Monday, October 13, 2014

Princeton vs. Consciousness

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Are We Really Conscious? - NYTimes.com

Yes, though it's entirely predictable that the Cathedral would prefer you to doubt it.

(Via, via.)

Graziano asserts that since consciousness is inaccurately modelling something else which isn't conscious, consciousness doesn't exist.
Graziano takes forever to get to the point, luckily I could guess or I would never have bothered reading the whole thing. I will instead use inverted pyramid structure.

This is where my own work comes in. In my lab at Princeton, my colleagues and I have been developing the “attention schema” theory of consciousness, which may explain why that computation is useful and would evolve in any complex brain.
It's remarkable that Graziano thinks this is even remotely fitting as an explanation. I think the fact that he recognizes the flaws makes it worse. He's noticed the problems but is hoping to sweep them under your rug.

Awareness: a cartoonish reconstruction of attention that is as physically inaccurate as the brain’s internal model of color.
At least it misses the point in a complex way. Unfortunately that makes it sophisticated sophistry.

Wavelength is a real, physical phenomenon; color is the brain’s approximate, slightly incorrect model of it.
Colour is also its own thing, which it is a perfect model of.

Awareness: a cartoonish reconstruction of attention that is as physically inaccurate as the brain’s internal model of color.
Awareness is also its own thing.
Presumably Graziano believes attention does not have awareness. He therefore concludes that awareness, by having awareness, is an inaccurate model of attention.

The word 'cat' is not a furry carnivore. It is, however, a curve, a loop with a tail, and a cross, indeed it is exactly identical to those things. You cannot explain that the word 'cat' doesn't exist by asserting that curves, loops, and crosses are not furry carnivores.

This is exactly analogous to Graziano's 'refutation.' The word 'cat' is not an illusion. Instead, it merely betrays his extreme naivete and disinterest in the facts about consciousness. Or sophistry.

I believe a major change in our perspective on consciousness may be necessary, a shift from a credulous and egocentric viewpoint to a skeptical and slightly disconcerting one: namely, that we don’t actually have inner feelings in the way most of us think we do.
Emphasis added. Yeah, major, I've never heard that one. This year.


The scientific truth about white (i.e., that it is not pure) differs from how the brain reconstructs it.
Misrepresenting or misunderstanding consciousness. We're supposed to not take consciousness for granted but we are supposed to take Graziano's interpretation of consciousness for granted.

White, in the mind, is neither pure nor impure. It's a colour, just like every other colour. The brain doesn't 'reconstruct' colour. The mind constructs an entirely new thing, colour, which does not exist in a photon-camera system. The photonic mixture 'white' is completely separate form the qualia 'white.' Check; they can exist independently. Mixture without brain, and dreams, respectively.

Not to mention equivocation; trying to purify the photonic mixture should not be confused with trying to purify the quale.

How does the brain go beyond processing information to become subjectively aware of information? The answer is: It doesn’t.
"I observe a thing. What is it?" "Oh, you're not observing it." You cannot get more anti-scientific.

But the argument here is that there is no subjective impression; there is only information in a data-processing device.
"I observed a thing." "No you didn't." Plebs aren't allowed consciousness. You have to go to Princeton if you want to deserve consciousness.

The machinery is computing an elaborate story about a magical-seeming property.
Deliberate or taught confusion of objective and subjective. Yes, if you assume subjective properties are objective, it will be difficult to show the objective truth of the subjective properties. For some reason.

It also computes information about the self and about a (physically incoherent) property of subjective experience.
Graziano has discovered that nonphysical properties are physically incoherent. I am amazeballs.

And there is no way for the brain to determine through introspection that the story is wrong, because introspection always accesses the same incorrect information.
Rank newbie mistake. Introspection is not unitary.

First, what is our relationship to the rest of the universe? Copernicus answered that one. We’re not at the center. We’re a speck in a large place.
Much like a sapphire is just a speck in some large rock, and uranium makes up only 2.7% of the crust.

Second, what is our relationship to the diversity of life? Darwin answered that one. Biologically speaking, we’re not a special act of creation. We’re a twig on the tree of evolution.
We build skyscrapers and nothing else on the entire tree does. Luckily skyscrapers are just a social construct, so none of our precious beliefs are challenged.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Theological Epistemology

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So you think stable society requires a religion.

Given that a flavour of nihilism might be the true religion, there must be a true religion.

Existence is defined by interactions, which means it must be possible to learn the true religion. Theological epistemology must require a different attitude than our well-studied epistemologies, or we would have already learned it. I find it absurd to presume we've already done so: all other fields of knowledge develop step by step from imperfection to wisdom. Religion is at best stuck at imperfection, if not outright random guesses.

If ~nihilism is the true religion, your ambitions are done. Society will never be stable. Thus if you want to stabilize civilization and think you need a religion, you must assume there is a true religion.

Therefore the first thing to do is develop theological epistemology. (It is similarly necessary to assume it is possible to develop this epistemology.) It is not going to develop by accident, or it would have done so already. It must be developed intentionally and consciously.

I could presume to write that I've made a start on it, but you shouldn't believe me, so I won't. You must develop theological epistemology yourself, because nobody else who can do it is going to do it. That, or give up your ambitions. However necessary it is for civilization, nobody cares enough about civilization to provide it.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Cost-Benefit Analysis: A Case Study of Cultural Economic Incompetence

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When for example an Anglo-Saxon hobbit is taught about cost-benefit analysis, they subconsciously think it shows they should do something that would alienate their friends, and blame the analysis rather than their shallow understanding of it.

Their brain instantly throws ups some stupid ritual they're ambivalent about, and they'll realize the cost-benefit is cost-heavy. Another, different part of their brain will then instantly throw up flashing red flags, because the ritual is a signalling surface antigen. They make no effort to reconcile these parts, but rationally think their relationships are more important than understanding econ, and therefore reject economics.

I use the hobbit as an example, underclass such as chavs and helots make similar errors, and bourgeoisie usually have to aggressively compartmentalize the knowledge.

Two issues in particular here.
Hobbits do not naturally think recursively.
The ritual is pointlessly inefficient. Whatever is being signalled can probably be signalled by something a fifth of the cost, if only other hobbits were rational enough to notice and agree, or lucky enough to have picked it in the first place.
The latter means the asocial econ part of the hobbit's brain has successfully understood. However, the former prevents them from adding the cost of losing friends to the overall cost of changing, and it never occurs to them to tot up the social phase-transition cost from expensive rituals to efficient ones.

The failure to grok the principle usually prevents hobbits from using it at all, as their only choices are repelling their friends or rejecting the principle. Bourgeoisie have more sophistication, but usually have to put it behind overbuild walls.

The 'libertarianism can't work' crowd seems averse to explaining exactly why not. I hypothesize the above conflict, generalized, is the reason. The problem would seem to be failure to teach logic, rather than a failure of the philosophy. Econ can even be taught praxeologically; children will do the asocial thing, by accident, if nothing else. The teacher doesn't need to explain the principle clearly and the children don't need logic; simply saying, "That's not what I mean," at the right times will do. Bourgeoisie learn it praxeologically as Conquest's first law kicks in. Prussian schools obviously and deliberately teach the opposite and actively antagonize efficient signalling.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Leadership Engineering vs. Umlaut Comments

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Doing it wrong.

Comments here, via, spurred by this.

"If you're going to advocate/borrow elements from some version/mix of an ideology/ideologies that led to the death of lots of people in the past"
There were some sincere, well-intentioned communists. They formed actual communes with a hundred or so of their buddies. Communism failed on this scale, so they abandoned the communes. Usually before anyone died.

Then there were some insincere, power-lustful communists. They imposed these known failure modes on countries of millions of people. When people started dying, they did not change their minds about what should be done.

The disputants in the Umlaut comment section seem to be arguing about who gets to legitimately seize the coercive apparatus. They have concluded it's the group with the most rhetorically-effective arguments, and are now all attempting to seize that power proxy.

If you actually want to create good government, then it's time to apply engineering discipline. Preliminary studies. Prototype. Scale - slowly. One tribe. Then one town. Then one city. Then two cities. Solve problems as they arise, before scaling further. Not revolution. Not entire countries at once.

The only reason I'm not already out there recruiting for an experiment in alternative government structures is because my proposed alternatives are illegal. There is also the Rhodesia problem, should my designs happen to work.

Why Mechanization Doesn't Cause Job Loss

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Or: Luddites still wrongheaded.

Toy economy microcosm: iPods and mining, nothing else.

Let's say an iPod costs $1000 to make, $500 for labour, the rest for ore from the mine. Let's say we mechanize so cleverly the iPod no longer takes any human labour at all.

Normally, the lowered input costs will make iPods cost much less, indeed around half as much. This will cause more iPods to sell, requiring more ore. Demand curves being what they are, they won't sell twice as much, but four or five or ten times as much. (Ctrl-f "Holiday.")

For every $500 of ore Apple was buying, they're now buying $2100 of ore. If the mining company spends more than $160 of labour to mine that $500 of ore, the economy will now be spending more overall on labour than it did before the jobs were 'lost.' (Real companies would kill to have such low labour costs.)

The cotton gin added net jobs, because like every other mechanization so far, it did not eliminate labour entirely, and the higher demand for the remaining labour more than compensated for the 'lost' jobs.

Certainly there's some short-term pain, which I think should be treated compassionately. The iPod workers will be out of a job while the economy adjusts, and I for one don't want to rip them away from their roots, their friends and family and geographical familiarity, so they can go work at a mine halfway across the country.

However, the idea that mechanization costs jobs is still wrong.

The government costs jobs.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Anarchist Security Insurance vs. Logic and Game Theory

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Cowan strawmans security insurance, but at least it gives me an excuse to rant about real anarchist philosophy.

(Source, via, via.)

"but I do mind patronizing a protection agency whose decisions are ignored by other agencies."
The market is smarter than you. I can think of a solution, which means the market will utterly dominate this problem.

This is an incorrect model of property. The agencies will be able to act unilaterally, the decisions against offenders will be presented to other agencies as fait accompli, which they would have to put to arms to contest, which will be too expensive to be worthwhile.

For example, agency ShopWall captures a shoplifter and jails them. For the shoplifter's agency, SlumLord, to contest the jailing, they will have to invade ShopWall's territory. Once ShopWall publicly shares the security cam footage, SlumLord will be caught between game theory and justice. Or consider flogging; you can't un-flog someone.

It's not at all a matter of 'respecting' another agency's decisions, but whether you're willing to pay the cost of not working with them, which is simply unwise, and Gnon will punish such agencies and their patrons.

Worst case scenario, a burglar burgles and tries to claim sanctuary. HouseWall's request for extradition is not 'respected' by SlumLord. Okay, but now all of SlumLord's patrons are effectively outlaws within HouseWall's territory, and they can be shot on sight. The burglar cannot enter any home or business which patronizes HouseWall without risking citizen's arrest. Why would SlumLord pay these costs when there's solid, objective evidence the burglar is guilty? Not only does SlumLord destroy its relationship with HouseWall, other agencies know that dealing with SlumLord patrons is an unwise risk for their patrons, meaning SlumLord has damaged its reputation globally.

But, just as the market is smarter than you, it's smarter than me. These are not actually hard problems, but we can argue about this from our armchairs eternally. Communism was tried small-scale before it was implemented nationally, and the phase-3 results were precisely predicted by the preliminary trials. Similarly, the thing to do with anarcho-capitalism is try it on a small scale and see what happens.

However, since I don't have any handy tent cities to rehabilitate, I'm going to continue pontificating from my armchair.

"Protection firms with differing law codes must offer a form of quality collusion that provides a common product (a final decision) to their respective customers when interests clash."
The crime and punishment is determined by the local laws; in an anarcho-capitalism 'local' means whatever the particular property owner happens to want. In most cases it will be some standard provided and administered by a commercial firm. To accept that interests can validly clash is to violate the principle of property, which is to beg the question against anarcho-capitalism.

Moreover, law is likely a commodity good. All the legal systems are going to converge on a simple set of rules and consequences; it's unlikely they will offer meaningfully different codes any more than cellphone companies innovate on what shape phone numbers are.

"A cooperating network of protection service agencies could use aggressive force to enforce its market domination (Friedman does concede this point, although he doubts its likelihood)."
A cooperating network of states could use aggressive force to enforce slavery. A cooperating network of states could use force to, oh, I don't know, displace millions of Arabs so they have somewhere to put the Jews, or to then later displace millions of Jews because they've changed their mind.

This is not a criticism of anarcho-capitalism.

"The adjudication network is stable only if it can use force to put down outlaw agencies that do not accept its higher-order arbitration decisions. Such a network also could use force to put down firms that do not adhere to the collusive agreement."
Insert sarcasm here. This is really bad. As above, 'accepting' arbitration is simply not how this works.

How it works is violence is expensive, and nobody sane engages in it unless they can externalize the costs. Arbitration agencies hardly need to have enforcement arms at all. Rather, if your options are accept arbitration or challenge the defendant to a gun battle, you accept arbitration because it's not worth your life. The enforcement arms are purely for the insane and the deluded.

If an deviant agency refuses to cooperate, well, guess what, Arab states don't extradite to America, and neither does China. This is simply not a serious problem. If going to Arabia means you might get shot and your family will see neither justice nor restitution, then don't go to Arabia? Just a suggestion, don't take your life into your own hands unless you're willing to risk your life.

"The adjudication network could divide the market in to exclusive territories and institute taxation."
Bare assertions are on the table? Okay, I can do that.

If a firm decides to institute taxation it will instantly see a a subscription revolt. Modern states cannot withstand tax revolts of greater than 10% of the population or so, because enforcement is simply too expensive. A firm that tried this will strangle itself within the week and invite voluntary rescuers to come fortify its former territory against it. Further, social norms within an anarcho-capitalism would make it as difficult to order its employees to do so as it would be to order American soldiers to prevent citizen from voting.

"Under this agreement the forces that usually break down cartels - new entrants and renegade colluders - cannot obtain market share."
Yes they can, because of tax revolts and mass emigration.

"Each firm belonging to the network would agree not to deal with upstart firms, or with firms that violated the common agreement to monopolize."
You can't tax day 1 and go to war day 2, you have to build up a war chest. Instead, 'upstart' firms will already exist and know they themselves need a war chest, due to the drumbeats from the wannabe states, making it far too expensive for the states to deal with them. Not to mention consolidation costs. Moreover, given the existential threat such firms pose, it will incentivize all surrounding firms to attempt a levy, which, due to the existential threat and faux pas committed, will help unite the non-state firms and sell the levy to their customers.

Also think about how hard it is to seal a border by surprise. Given that taxing day 1 doesn't lead to war day 2, they will bleed customers, especially rich customers, extremely fast.

Because firms are not idiots, they will also realize this, and sane ones won't try in the first place. Insane ones are incompetent by definition and are guaranteed less of a problem than Cowan describes.

"But competitive forces could conceivably favor such firms. How would competitive market forces alone prevent an outlaw firm from increasing its business by promising never to turn over its guilty customers for imprisonment or trial?"
As above, without difficulty. Cowan's premise is self-defeating. The problem is not how does OutLaw gain market share, the problem is how do OutLaw patrons live long enough to ask for sanctuary. OutLaw will have to commit violence against other agencies to prevent its patrons being lost to Thanatos, and violence hasn't become cheap in the last couple minutes.

Imagine you run a retail store. Someone walks in, and you know they might patronize OutLaw. So you ask for the relevant ID. If they admit to OutLaw or refuse to show it, are you going to give them the chance to become guilty of something, or are you going to pull your shotgun and indicate they should vacate the premises?

Amusingly, this even works if your firm frowns on vigilantism. The outlaw isn't their patrons, they're not going to bother trying to defend them. Further, given that OutLaw won't extradite to them, why would they bother extraditing to OutLaw?

When security firms break down, they don't automatically become states. Rather, it returns to the Hobbesian law of personal self-defence. Especially with modern technology, it's perfectly possible to defend anything at any scale from the sane. Simply have enough weapons to cause more damage than you have wealth, which is easy since destruction is at least ten times cheaper than creation. (This is the basic reason states are so fond of disarming their citizens. States hate it when the cattle fights back; they can't afford it. Similarly, nobody farms tigers for fur.)

"I think this kind of outlaw firm will fail, but not because customers will automatically stop patronizing it."
Yes, customers are too stupid to realize that patronizing OutLaw is likely to get them shot. The only way they will figure it out is once a bunch of them get shot.

States have to infantilize the population because their interventions are insulting to adults. It is not at all a coincidence that schools try to indefinitely extent childhood.

"The threat of violence from the network."
Collectivists often seem to have issues imagining individuals as real elements in the system.

Which leads to this:
"The disciplinary actions of the network that put down these outlaws are precisely the actions that could enforce collusion as well."
The point of anarcho-capitalism is that Gnon's discpline is sufficient. Firms that deprecate OutLaw don't need to actively do anything, let alone active discipline. They simply need to fail to prop it up. Individual reactions to individual patrons of OutLaw would be more than enough.

The breakdown of security firms still doesn't automatically lead to a state.

"Businessmen and government officials differ little with respect to temperament."
Haha wut.

Please tell me this is diplomatic propaganda. I still think lying is profane, but if isn't a lie...

"Electing businessmen to political office, even average ones (as opposed to those who deliberately seek election), would not change the tyranny of government much."
Should I hope this is the rumoured Straussianism?

Right, entrepreneurs are totally the same as professional liars. That said, it's entirely true that electing non-liars won't change the government much, because elected officials have, to first order approximation, no power at all. I indeed hope this epic equivocation is Straussian.

"In addition, businessmen, if in a position to engineer a coup through the network, might prove more efficient and cost-effective than their public-sector counterparts. A privately owned network holds out the possibility of residual claimancy and profits, which makes the likelihood of a coup through the network greater."
And now entrepreneurs are different from bureaucrats. Maybe I'm just bad at the Staussian transformation? Inconsistency just looks like a mistake to me.

Coups are of course a big problem for voluntary organizations. Oh wait, no, the opposite is true, since the supposed beneficiaries are those in charge of the cash inflow. Wannabe coup conspiracies give them a pass, since they would still have to provide the service to their customers if they want their seized organization to survive.

"It is not the number of police forces that matters, it is the number of sources for final-order arbitration."
Here we see the errors combine into a perfect storm.

Indeed that's true. Luckily, self-defence at any scale is highly feasible. Except that Pax Americana means any insufficiently demotist country gets invaded, which means there's approximately one current source of final arbitration; China and Russia fit within the error bounds on that measurement, even combined.

"But if collusion, one public good among agencies, cannot be provided, neither can the punishment of renegades be provided, another public good among agencies. We cannot have it both ways."
Public goods don't real, so it's not a case of having both ways. As above, punishment is not 'provided,' it simply occurs as long as nobody, stops it from occurring. E.g. America can externalize its costs of preventing it, and it wants to prevent it, so it does.



I find this level of reasoning typical of Cowan, which is why I don't normally read his stuff.



As always, the real problems with anarcho-capitalism are about military level defence.
It seems as if nuclear proliferation has lead to peace because the generals who decide to declare war now actually risk their own lives when they do so. However, generals are not guaranteed sane. Proliferation to the city-state may produce peace, or it may produce nuclear skirmishes with madmen, each one an erroneous instrument reading away from cascading. While madmen are usually incapable of sustaining nuclear infrastructure, 'usually' isn't 'always.' It might still be good enough, but...

Perhaps the same effect could be produced with assassins. Have a few cells of sleeper assassins and let the general know what their orders are.

Setting these aside, even populations are not guaranteed sane. Moreover, making the entire world anarcho-capitalist at once has a few issues with it. Thus anarchist city-states will be faced with state armies they need to repel. While the rational thing to do is cooperate to repel the army, sane does not imply rational, since there are too many inferential steps involved.

A mad state may attack an anarchy even though the anarchy will destroy far more than the state can possibly gain by seizing them. This being the case, it becomes locally rational for the anarchy to surrender, empowering the state, if other anarchies won't help.

Imagine Australia and New Zealand convert to anarchy and get some nukes. America decides this is far too embarrassing, and invades NZ. Even if New Zealand nukes America's forces and nukes America's home soil, it's entirely possible they'll run out of nukes before America runs out of money. After this, it's a short step for the NYT to say, "Crazy nuke-happy New Zealand must be destroyed before they nuke us again!" It's simple for Authority to cast defence as aggression and thus aggression as defence. The only question is whether NZ gets glassified or they can make an excuse for an infantry seizure.

Australia could have prevented all this by intimidating America along with New Zealand. But of course they don't want trade sanctions or to have to deal with bombing themselves, so they play the neutrality card. But, having done so, they make it incredibly easy for the NYT to call them nuke-happy too, once the war-chest is refilled in the aftermath of NZ. They're anarchist. They have nukes. It's only a matter of time... At which point it becomes rational for Australia to surrender.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Consciousness Contradiction Hunting Part 2

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I ate. I now challenge Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy to a duel. I hope they win, and I bet on them to reinforce and incentivize that hope. (Part 1.)

"Mental states are characterised by two main properties, subjectivity, otherwise known as privileged access, and intentionality. Physical objects and their properties are sometimes observable and sometimes not, but any physical object is equally accessible, in principle, to anyone. From the right location, we could all see the tree in the quad, and, though none of us can observe an electron directly, everyone is equally capable of detecting it in the same ways using instruments. But the possessor of mental states has a privileged access to them that no-one else can share. That is why there is a sceptical ‘problem of other minds’, but no corresponding ‘problem of my own mind’."
I contend that the queerness of my conclusions is not the result of my premises or methods. These are the mainest of mainstream. Rather, the queerness is that my views should not already be common.

"Whether one believes that the mind is a substance or just a bundle of properties, the same challenge arises, which is to explain the nature of the unity of the immaterial mind."
Whether one believes an electron is made of a substance, energy, or is just a bundle of properties - mass, electric charge, spin, and so on - the same challenge arises, which is to explain the nature of the unity of the material electron.

To be fair this is a real problem. However, it's also an empirical fact which can be stated axiomatically by the philosopher.

Incidentally, the solution is probably inherent in the subjective nature of consciousness. Assuming two thoughts are disparate, they are inaccessible to each other. For one subject to access two thoughts probably requires they actually be the same thought. Indeed the subject is likely composed entirely of that thought due to the [homonculus fallacy] issue. I haven't fully analyzed the homonculus yet.

"First, in so far as this ‘ectoplasm’ has any characterisation as a ‘stuff’—that is, a structure of its own over and above the explicitly mental properties that it sustains—it leaves it as much a mystery why this kind of stuff should support consciousness as it is why ordinary matter should."
First, in so far as this 'energy' has any characterization as a 'stuff' -- that is, a structure of its own over and above the explicitly physical properties that it sustains -- it leaves it as much mystery why this kind of stuff should support physical existence as it is why consciousness should.

Is the pattern clear?

"Second, and connectedly, it is not clear in what sense such stuff is immaterial, except in the sense that it cannot be integrated into the normal scientific account of the physical world. Why is it not just an aberrant kind of physical stuff?"
Not connectedly.

The reason is subjectivity has the wrong kind of epistemic properties to be physical, and the epistemic impinges on the ontologic. Namely, for subjectivity, map is territory. To suppose the territory is different is to suppose the map is different, because it is where the two unite.

"The ‘consciousness' account: The view that consciousness is the substance. Account (a) allowed the immaterial substance to have a nature over and above the kinds of state we would regard as mental. The consciousness account does not. This is Descartes' view."
Smart bastard. The encyclopedia continues in this highly reasonable vein for a while.

I suspect consciousness fragments into conciousness quanta while you're asleep and reunites while dreaming or upon awakening. But this is an empirical question. Find out how consciousness is hooked to physics and it will be straightforward to answer this.

--

I find Wikipedia dense in claims but light on substantial claims, while Stanford likes to ramble.

On a whim, I checked La Wik's physicalism page. I correctly predicted they would have no 'criticism' section, such as the dualism page so conveniently has. It's as if anti-mainstream propaganda cannot be allowed to stand, while pro-mainstream propaganda is not considered icky enough to be propaganda.

Materialism at least has a stub of a criticism section.

I guess at least Stanford can claim a fair and balanced review of the subject. I certain don't feel misrepresented there. This means they firmly outperformed my expectations, which means they win. Good on them.